North winds have been fickle, making the spring season on the Pacific side more challenging than usual. As June settles in, however, the bright spot is around the islands, sprinkled along the coastline as well as the outer waters.
Rumbles are that log barracuda are jumping on surface iron and that schools of big bonito are under bird schools at both the Coronados and one to two miles farther down from the Punta Banda outcroppings to just inside of the south end of Isla Todos Santos, with an occasional bonus yellowtail to sweeten the pot.
Offshore in the same zone from the border to San Quintín as weather calms, bluefin tuna from 20- to 200 pounds taunt the fleet as counts continue to climb – and the number of boats looking for them grows.
If you find the bluefin, they could be in any of three size groups: 20- to 30 pounders; 40- to 75 pounders; or 100- to 200 pounders. You might find all three size groups mixed in one single school. The best bet for getting the fish from the two heavier classes has been the Flat-Fall Jigs and kite or balloon/double-trouble rig.
The double-trouble rig is two live sardines, or mackerel shoulder hooked on 6/0 to 8/0 circle hooks and a 130- to 200-pound fluoro leader that is attached to 150- to 200 pound braid. When fished on a kite, the bait is on the surface splashing around or popping out of the water one or two feet at the most, which allows the heavy leader and large hooks rig to work, because none of it is in the water.
The only other bright spot is Cedros Island on the Pacific side. Yellowtail fishing has been great! The fish have been along the south end of the island all winter and biting well on the Flat-Fall Jigs and trolled Rapalas.
Over on the Sea of Cortez, the “Pesca La Baja” series began its fifth year, May 18-19, with its first event in San Luis Gonzaga. Despite its remote location, more than 180 anglers and over 40 boats were registered – the most substantial number in the event’s history, organized by the Association of Sports Fishing Clubs in Baja California. Many traveled some distance to participate.
While there were reports of some wind, all but one of the eight categories were awarded, and the largest catch of the event was a 28-pound gulf grouper.
Pesca La Baja’s next scheduled event is in San Felipe, June 22-23, followed by San Quintin on July 20-21, with Ensenada completing the circuit August 24-25. The Gran Final takes place at Bahia de Los Angeles on September 28-29.
Punta Chivato underscored that spring is here by reporting sea temps reaching 73 degrees and the first striped marlin of the year along with a wide-open snapper, corvina and pargo bite from shore.
Also underscoring the promising prospects for Loreto was a recent report from Robert Ross’s 37-foot Boston Whaler Rampage that had created quite a stir with several record-size yellowfin tuna back in January.
Ross and his deckhand Samurai were fishing outside Catalina in the trench where they were seeing many patches of Sargasso in flat calm 81-degree water that has been a productive area in the past for Ross. They sent a photo, commenting that they had caught three big dorado! One of three, the largest, weighed 55-pounds. They added that they also released 2 marlin, and hooked 3 cabrilla, and 1 yellowtail, plus spotting a swordfish that sunk out before they could bait it.
Add the large schools of sardina and giant clumps of Sargasso on the surface, and the area is on track for a typical season for a change.
Las Arenas has been kicking out some big roosterfish for both fly and conventional anglers, as well as dorado, limits of yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo, plus, all the usual critters hanging out around the rocky structures.
At East Cape, the local fleets found yellowfin tuna and dorado approximately 20- to 25 miles off the lighthouse where many pods of dolphin and porpoise were holding tuna in the 10-30-pound range. The striped marlin bite exploded when a large school moved up the coast following bait schools. A mixed bag of roosterfish, jack crevalle, African pompano, grouper, and snapper made up the inshore catch. The weather has been just beautiful in the mid- to high-80s, with water temps ranging in the mid- to high-70s.
At Puerto Los Cabos at the Desteladera Bank, with bait fish schools now moving around, the billfish action has become more scattered. However, boats targeting billfish on these offshore grounds have been reporting multiple chances daily; bites usually came while trolling lures, dropping back baits, or soaking baits.
The yellowfin tuna bite was mainly centered at La Fortuna, the Twenty-Five Spot, and, on some days, near Iman and San Luis Banks. Most of these fish were in the 30- to 70 pound class. On the Gordo Banks, there were some days when a few tuna up to 70 pounds were reported while trolling live chihuil. Few dorado are around now, though more of these fish were seen this past week.
Striped marlin dominated the local catches. Many were scoring multiple releases in Cabo San Lucas recently; also creating quite a buzz was an estimated 700-pound black that came off after 3-plus hours.
The billfish bite was good enough that most boats focused on them, dramatically lowering the number and variety of other species caught recently.
There were several boats that caught some of the smaller yellowfin tuna and a wahoo found about 30 miles out. Closer to shore, roosterfish, jack crevalle and a few skipjack rounded out the species list recently.
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With more than five decades of fishing experience – from light tackle and fly to offshore billfish – Gary Graham has experienced all aspects of fishing in the Southern California and Baja waters. His observations of species behavior, tackle and techniques are always from his unique perspective, earning him the respect of his peers as well as anglers who eagerly follow his Baja reports and features.
Gary maintained a home at East Cape in Baja Sur for more than 18 years and still spends nearly half of each year exploring the entire peninsula in his self-contained Roadtrek van. He observes everything Baja, from the mysteries of a tide pool on a deserted Baja beach filled with tiny sea creatures to the largest billfish in the sea.